Weekender

Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania, Nittany Ballet join to present classic holiday tale

Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania and the Nittany Ballet will perform “The Nutcracker” at Eisenhower Auditorium on Saturday and Sunday.
Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania and the Nittany Ballet will perform “The Nutcracker” at Eisenhower Auditorium on Saturday and Sunday. Photo provided

This weekend, the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania and the Nittany Ballet will team up to bring the holiday classic “The Nutcracker” to Eisenhower Auditorium.

This take on a holiday favorite is not only a full-length production in a professional theater, but is performed almost entirely by the school’s youth dancers, who are all at or under the age of 18. It features more than 80 children from State College and the surrounding area.

“We do have the privilege of working with a professional guest artist this year from Cleveland Ballet in the roles of Snow King and Cavalier, which is very exciting for our students and our audience,” PASCP Artistic Director Rebecca Maciejczyk said.

“The Nutcracker” ballet production that the PASCP will present focuses primarily on classical ballet. Social dancing is included in the first scene of the performance, with some stylistic variations in the second act.

“We do offer classes in modern, jazz, contemporary and character dance at our studios and we have a creative movement program for younger students as well,” Maciejczyk said.

The Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania has become a second home to Maciejczyk, as she is surrounded by supportive and dedicated colleagues and wonderful students.

“It is a place where we can really dig into the work with extreme focus and discipline, yet genuinely enjoy each other’s company and foster supportive relationships between teachers and students,” she said. “For PASCP and Nittany Ballet, our mission is to help our young artists experience a joyful pursuit of excellence in their passion.”

With such an enormous cast, there is much preparation in putting a production such as this together. Community auditions are held at the end of September to fill the roles of boys and adults in the party scene, the opening scene in the production.

“I hold informal in-house auditions during regularly scheduled classes for certain roles for our advanced dancers and work with program coordinators for beginner-advanced students to cast the show,” Maciejczyk said. “Once casting is posted, the rehearsal process begins in addition to regular weekly classes.”

Rehearsals are scheduled during one of the weekly classes for their younger students, and on Saturdays, as well as times during the week for their more advanced students. PASCP faculty helps to set choreography and rehearse the students. Many members of the PASCP family donate their time and talents to fill areas of need during the process.

“We have wonderful volunteers who work tirelessly costuming the production, and we ask families to participate as chaperones for young dancers at the theater,” Maciejczyk said. “Some very generous community members and businesses help to make this production a success every year. I hope that our audience will take note of their recognition in our performance programs and support their businesses.”

Maciejczyk said she is continually inspired by the students’ progress and the results of their work together. She has been teaching for the school since 2007 and became PASCP’s Artistic Director in 2012.

“I hope the audience gets a real sense of our work together as they watch the performances and are inspired to become more involved,” Maciejczyk said. “Perhaps they might become a more frequent audience member for our productions. Perhaps they might recommend our school to friends or acquaintance with young children interested in dance. Perhaps they might make the decision to support our organization financially.”

“The Nutcracker” is a traditional classical ballet performance of a traditional story, and Maciejczyk hopes that the audience will clearly see through the quality of the production, and the message of what can become of hard work, dedication and a love of the arts, by both dancers and their steadfast supporters as well.

“Our dancers are learning and growing as thoughtful young artists, and truly benefit from the ongoing support of PASCP from our community,” Maciejczyk said. “In any case, I sincerely hope that seeing our production will be a positive experience for all who attend.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Performing Arts School of Central Pennylvania and Nittany Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park
  • Info: 1-800-ARTS-TIX
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